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THE FIRES OF NERO: THE RISE OF THE DICTATOR Comes to Stage 773, 8/30Phoenix Rising Productions presents its inaugural play, The Fires of Nero: The Rise of a Dictator, which playwright/producer Aaron Harris Woodstein says became a cautionary tale, the longer he studied the sadistic and violent Roman emperor Nero.

"Nero (37-68 AD) gained power with everyone he killed," Woodstein said. "I was surprised that anyone could exist and be that awful, that people did not stop him. That lesson for today was what inspired me to keep writing the plot. I want people to walk away saying, 'Wow, I can't believe they let this happen.'"

The Fires of Nero: The Rise of a Dictator runs Aug. 30-Sept. 9, 2018 at the Box Theater of Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are available at

The play encompasses the first eight years of the emperor's 14-year reign and ends with the burning of Rome, his most notorious act. Conventional wisdom says that Nero was insane but Woodstein says, "I want audiences to judge for themselves."

Theatre historian Seth N. Wilson is the director. Wilson has worked in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and the United Kingdom. He holds a master's degree in theatre history from the University of Illinois and will receive his doctorate from the University of Georgia in August. At UGeorgia's New Play Festival, he recently directed two world premieres, "Alice, Captured," and "Phantom Annilhilators."

A talk-back with playwright/producer Woodstein, director Wilson and Clifford Ando, professor at the University of Chicago whose research includes the history and critique of Roman and neo-Roman political thought, will follow the Sunday, September 2 matinee.

Location: Stage 773 Box Theatre, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Regular Run: Thursday, August 30-Sunday, September 9, 2018. Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets: $15/$20

"Too late, fidelity," were Nero's dying words. Get your tickets before it's too late at

Phoenix Rising Productions has a mission to highlight rich Midwestern culture and artistry by supporting local playwrights and underrepresented groups. The new theatre company arose from a Kickstarter campaign, from the ashes of companies that mistreated artists, who didn't pay their performers when promised and who eventually closed their doors.

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